Awareness and anti-stigma campaigns

May 3, 2017

Despite campaigns to raise awareness about mental illness, there is still a lot of discrimination and prejudice against people with depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, post-partum depression and other mental illnesses.

Stigma and discrimination are so deeply entrenched, we often don’t even notice them. But they are one of the key reasons people with mental illness feel isolated and worried about discussing their mental health.

Stigma also affects which voices we hear and who shares their experience with mental illness. In general, people who face less discrimination and who have stable employment with good support are far more likely to feel comfortable discussing their experiences. So there is a lack of diversity in the stories we do hear and increased stigma for equity-seeking members.

Although people are more likely to talk about mental illness than they once were, we still have a long way to go. Awareness and anti-stigma campaigns can focus on a range of issues—from the specifics of avoiding the use of stigmatizing language, to creating an atmosphere of trust in which people feel safe to discuss their mental health.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, one of the most powerful ways to reduce stigma is to meet people with mental illness and hear their voices and their stories. As part of an anti-stigma campaign, consider a lunchtime speaker who can talk about their experience with mental illness.

The Teamsters Canada Youth developed a series of videos on mental health as part of their Make It Mandatory campaign.